1. Zell office REIT to sell $300 million Australian portfolio: report “Sam Zell is continuing his shakeup of the former CommonWealth REIT by planning to sell the company's Australian portfolio, according to a report. The Chicago-based real estate investment trust, now known as Equity Commonwealth Office Trust, is preparing to market an eight-building industrial and office portfolio valued at $300 million, according to the Australian newspaper. An Equity Commonwealth spokeswoman did not return messages.” (ChicagoBusiness.com)
  2. The Ease Of REIT Conversion Portends Danger For REITs “Recent months have seen a wave of REIT conversions, the most relevant of which of which is Windstream. There are two notable dangers of this proposed conversion that illustrate the magnitude of threat to REITs. This article will discuss these dangers along with why they could impair the growth of existing REITs. We will conclude with how investors can mitigate this risk.” (Seeking Alpha)
  3. Office Depot to close 165 stores this year; settles lawsuit for $80 million “Boca Raton-based Office Depot said Tuesday it would close 165 stores during 2014 — up from the 150 estimated earlier this year — but stuck with a total count of 400 store closures through 2016, the company said. The office-supply retailer, which merged with OfficeMax last year in a $1.2 billion transaction, said it has completed its analysis of which stores will be closed across the U.S. and Canada. Locally, the retailer has closed two OfficeMax stores, in Coral Springs and Deerfield Beach.” (Sun Sentinel)
  4. Walgreen bows to pressure, nixes inversion for Alliance Boots deal “Walgreen said on Wednesday it has agreed to buy the remaining 55% of UK-drugstore chain Alliance Boots it doesn’t already own for $15.3 billion, but won’t pursue a tax-reducing inversion structure for the deal, and stay U.S. based instead. Walgreen, the largest U.S. drugstore operator, had initially considered moving its tax-base abroad in a tax inversion deal, which would have lowered its corporate tax rate from the U.S. 35% standard, one of the highest in the world. One ISI analyst estimated that an inversion would have lowered Walgreen’s tax bill by $4 billion over 5 years. But after an extensive review, and intense public pressure, the executive team, which had been pushed by activist investors to consider such a deal, nixed the idea, feeling that the inversion would not pass muster with regulators. Walgreen shares plummeted 9% in premarket trading.” (Fortune)
  5. U.S. policymakers gird for rash of corporate expatriations “Washington policymakers are bracing for a wave of corporations to renounce their U.S. citizenship over the next few months, depriving the federal government of billions of dollars in tax revenue and stoking public outrage ahead of the Nov. 4 congressional elections. So far this year, about a dozen U.S. companies — including such well-known brands as Medtronic medical devices and Chiquita bananas — have merged with foreign firms and shifted their headquarters offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, analysts say.” (Washington Post)
  6. CRE Data – Stop Thinking Small “Someone asked me to summarize what’s going on in CRE regarding data. While the CRE data conversation has mostly revolved around what CoStar/LoopNet and Xceligent are up to, there’s a lot more going on than that. Yes, I’m talking about big data. But everyone in CRE seems to be thinking small.” (CREOutsider.com)
  7. Zacks #1 Ranked Real Estate Mutual Funds “Even though real estate has been through tough times recently, securities from this sector should continue to be an integral part of portfolios with a long term horizon. Over the years, mutual funds from this category have continued to perform favorably. They offer a convenient method to invest in real estate because of low initial investment requirements and the advantage of professional management. Investors willing to hold long term positions would do well to consider these funds as they add stability and bring steady returns to a portfolio. Below we will share with you 5 top rated real estate mutual funds. Each has earned a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) as we expect these mutual funds to outperform their peers in the future.” (Zacks)
  8. Whole Foods shares jump on word Icahn is taking a stake “The mere rumor of interest from billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn is enough to spur activity in a company’s shares, and that’s exactly what happened to Whole Foods Tuesday morning. Shares in the upscale grocery chain, which have dropped more than 33.1% on the year, jumped as much as nearly 6% this morning on rumors that Icahn might have taken a significant stake in the company.” (Fortune)
  9. Self-Storage Magnates Cash In on the Surge in Real Estate “Millions of Americans are like Kelsey Smith, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its September issue. They’ve got furniture and old photos, children’s toys and bric-a-brac that they’re loath to give up, yet they can’t find a place for it in their homes, garages or apartments. That’s been a huge boon for Kenneth Woolley and Spencer Kirk. They’re the chairman and chief executive officer, respectively, of Extra Space Storage Inc., the best-performing of four publicly listed self-storage companies, all organized as real estate investment trusts.” (Bloomberg)
  10. RFR Holding Scoops Up Holiday Inn Soho for About $90M “RFR Holding has bought the Holiday Inn Soho from Procaccianti Group for $89.7 million, property records indicate. RFR, run by Aby Rosen, bought the property at 138 Lafayette Street on July 30 and it appeared in public records today. Rhode Island-based Procaccianti Group bought the building, which is at the corner of Lafayette and Howard Streets, seven years ago for $128 million. RFR’s website indicates that it plans to reposition the hotel, originally built in 1961 and turned into a hotel in 1992.” (Commercial Observer)